The principle is simple: Leave others alone to pursue whatever might be their own aspirations, as long as they do not impede the rights and safety of others. It is the personification of America’s Bill of Rights. It applies to wherever and whenever we Americans assemble.
This idea of freedom sometimes conflicts with America’s political process. It has happened throughout our history. It is happening today.
I wrote earlier in The Press about the suppression of free speech on college campuses and other places (See Coeur d’Alene Press, May 17 and May 19, 2017, pages A5 in both pieces). Yes, college campuses, the supposed bastions of free speech and unbridled debate. Here is a quote from The Week magazine (Sept. 8, 2017):
“A ‘social justice’ newspaper posted at the University of Colorado calls for a nationwide ban on veterans as students, claiming the military is a ‘white supremacist organization.’ The authors assert that veterans have been ‘permanently tainted’ by military culture, causing many students to be ‘frightened’ by their presence.”
The article also states, “Veterans should be restricted to trade schools, the letter says, so colleges will feel ‘safe.’”
I ask my high school English teacher to forgive the use of an exclamation point: Trade schools!
The letter is an example of what I call The Ignorant Therefore Doctrinaire Syndrome. Anyone worth an ounce of mental salt knows the U.S. military was one of the first American institutions to promote racial equality.
I have difficulty understanding the intellectual vacuity of the people who wrote this article. Veterans are well-known for their offering stability to our society and to our communities — and that is not an alternative fact.
Trade schools? We veterans have all successfully graduated from a trade school. It is called basic training. It is a school I venture to guess some of the people at the University of Colorado would flunk.
Their statement about trade schools is a cogent example of the importance of the right of free speech. Their assertion is repugnant; insulting and demeaning to veterans. Yet I defend the right of these people to make these remarks. Once we Americans begin deciding what can or cannot be spoken (that does not endanger anyone), we might just as well throw in the towel of the First Amendment, the very bedrock of this country.
In addition to my previous discussions about students suppressing the right of speech to lecturers and invited guest speakers at colleges and other institutions, consider these insults to the First Amendment. These events occurred at Reed College, a noted liberal college located in Portland, Ore.:
Example one: A Humanities 101 lecturer was denied her right to discuss the subject when demonstrators emerged and said, “We’re protesting [this meeting] because it’s Eurocentric.”
Example two: An assistant professor asked students not to protest during her lecture, as she suffered from acute anxiety. (She may be in the wrong profession.) After her speech, the students called her a “race traitor” for failing to oppose a humanities class. She was “anti-black” because she wore a T-shirt that was labeled “Poetry is Lit.” [Writer: if you can explain this complaint to me, please send a letter to the editor]. She was called a “gaslighter” because she made “disadvantaged students doubt their own feelings of oppression.” [Writer: once again, I ask for some guidance on what this accusation means.]
In part 2 of this article, I provide other examples and offer additional thoughts about the subject of free speech.
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Because of his last name, Uyless Black has been described by assorted bigots as a “person of color” and other mocking comments. When he hears them directly, his response to his insulters is, “Black is beautiful in more ways than one.” Or offering some variety, “Here’s to Black power.” He lives in Hayden with his wife, Holly, and his “dog of no color,” French Poodle, Milli.